Immovable Object

Creating a 22-foot tall sunroom required special attention from Randall Hall. With three sides of nothing but glass and steel, the room couldn''t afford any structural movement whatsoever.

November 13, 2000

 

"To make it work, there''s a lot of steel involved," says Hall. "It''s steel framed, and there are going to be steel posts to brace the interior. It''s been a very new challenge, and we''ve hired quite a few specialists."

 

Thrown stones aren''t the only threat to the integrity of a glass house, as Dallas-based remodeler Randall Hall, CR, CGR, has discovered. Currently, while his company, Randall Hall Inc. www.randallhall.com, is building a custom home that includes a sunroom walled on three sides and roofed entirely in glass, he''s discovered several potential pitfalls that must be avoided while still achieving his clients'' vision.

"The real challenge in a project like this is to get it done the way the clients want it done," says Hall. "It has to be the way they visualize it, and it has to be beautiful all the way through."

In order to keep the glass from cracking and breaking, the 22-foot tall addition must be kept from any structural movement whatsoever. After calling in several specialists, including steel welders and engineers, Hall decided the best solution was to build a steel frame outside of the steel framing that will hold the glass windows in place. The cage-within-a-cage design, referred to as a "wind frame" by Hall, will prevent structural movement and will keep the addition from movement-related damage.

"To make it work, there''s a lot of steel involved," says Hall. "It''s steel framed, and there are going to be steel posts to brace the interior. It''s been a very new challenge, and we''ve hired quite a few specialists."

But no specialist can help Hall communicate the problems of such an unusual project to his clients. Hall uses weekly client meetings to help keep his customers expectations in-line with the work that''s being done, and this goes for all the projects currently being worked upon by his company. Production managers meet each week with customers to update them on the work completed for the past week and to inform them of the goals for the next upcoming week.

"These meetings keep them informed, and show them what things are going to be done to their home, and what to expect," says Hall. He can''t stress enough the importance of client communication, especially on unusual projects such as the glass addition. "You really have to help clients envision their project," he says. "They have a difficult time envisioning work of this type, and that''s where the volumes of change orders come from, because they can''t envision their project until it''s built. You can build something just like the plans, and afterward homeowners tell you ''That''s not what I wanted.'' You can alleviate those problems by doing your best to help them visualize."

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